As I pondered on a good place to begin discussions of mormonism, it struck me that comparing actual history to the LDS Institute Manual for the D&C was a good place to begin.
You may detect some notes of sarcasm in my approach. Please be aware that these are mostly jabs at the Correlation Department and that I feel that their attempt to hide history from members is, I think, worth mocking a bit.
Without further ado; Institute for Exploring Mormons, Day 1:
For notes compare to the official manual.
Everyone know what this is?
No, it’s not a castle, Jimmy. It’s the Salt Lake Temple.
Now, I’ll start the lesson with a confusing description of the Hosanna Shout– a rite that, for some reason, God wants to start temples with.
On top of the SLC temple, the upper half of that ball under Moroni is the temple’s capstone. On 6 April, 1892, the church held a general conference in the tabernacle. Shortly before noon, President Wilford Woodruff dismissed the meeting. Forty thousand people gathered on Temple Square, with thousands more surrounding it. President Woodruff then pressed an electric button, and the capstone was lowered into place. Down below, the Tabernacle Choir, accompanied by a band, began singing the hymn “The Spirit of God,” and the Saints joined in. Then they gave the Hosanna Shout and waved white handkerchiefs, showing their joy that the Salt Lake temple was near completion.
President Ezra Taft Benson, the 13th president of the church, explained that the Doctrine and Covenants can be described as the capstone of our religion:
The Doctrine and Covenants brings men to Christ’s kingdom, even The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ‘the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.’
The Book of Mormon is the ‘keystone’ of our religion, and the Doctrine and Covenants is the capstone, with continuing latter-day revelation. The Lord has placed His stamp of approval on both the keystone and the capstone.
— Conference Report, Apr. 1987, 105; or Ensign, May 1987, 83
But before there was a Doctrine and Covenants, there was a “Book of Commandments,” which was very different.
Just as the Book of Mormon is the keystone and is filled with anachronisms and mind-twisting logic (along with some very damaging doctrine), so, too, does the Doctrine and Covenants require a very large “Faith Shelf.”
This year we’ll discuss and share facts, context, interesting information and generally mock a CES manual’s very skewed perspective about a book that can really be very harmful, if taken literally and without context.
This course uses a thematic approach in studying the Doctrine and Covenants and church history. Although the official course lessons are intended to help class members learn and apply what the Doctrine and Covenants and church history teach about specific gospel themes, this course is to actually teach history, and help people understand what really happened, regardless of “gospel themes.”
As a result of this year’s study, class members should have
a greater desire to seek the blessings of the gospel. an actual fucking clue as to what was happening and the circumstances around the events in the Doctrine and Covenants.
Some sections of the Doctrine and Covenants are not included in the reading assignments. Nevertheless, class members should plan to read the entire Doctrine and Covenants during the year; because you really need to read the same blessing repeated 4 times with small variations. No really, you do!
The lesson manual says to distribute a copy of Our Heritage, so we’ll pick that apart as well.
This book presents
an inspiring a heavily modified and edited account of the history of the church, from the time of the Prophet Joseph Smith to the present day, which is totally not brainwashing.
In order for this class to be successful, you’re going to need to participate. Actually, I’m going to keep posting whether you pitch in or not. Whatever.
1. The revelations in the Doctrine and Covenants address the needs of our day.
Actually, I’m not sure this applies. I mean, we don’t drink drinks made of barley in the church. Heaven only knows that D&C 132 isn’t used at all the same way any more (if it should have been there in the first place), and dousing rods were removed. I think it was made for the 1800s and doesn’t really apply very well to an age of reason and physics, especially D&C 88’s views on how “light” works.
2. The Lord authored the preface to the Doctrine and Covenants.
On 1 November, 1831, the Prophet Joseph Smith presided at a special conference of elders held in Hiram, Ohio. Those in attendance decided to compile some of the revelations the prophet had received and published them in a book called the Book of Commandments. Following the first session of this conference, the Lord signified His approval for the publication by giving Joseph Smith a revelation that He called, “my preface unto the book of my commandments.”
President Ezra Taft Benson said:
The Doctrine and Covenants is the only book in the world that has a preface written by the Lord Himself. In that preface He declares to the world that His voice is unto all men. –Conference Report, Oct. 1986, 101; or Ensign, Nov. 1986, 79
This means that we can build tests around this book that cannot be tested on any other book in the world to verify if this really came from God, or if men were just making things up. Any serious flaws or failed prophesies are prophesies with the stamp and approval of Joseph’s God.
In D&C 1, God threatens a lot of people. Members of the church should really consider what kind of God would open a book with this kind of “join my church or else!” language.
3. This course will discuss major events of the dispensation of the fullness of times.
Oh hell yes it will.
This dispensation can be divided into six historical periods. We are totally going to rename these periods:
New York Period – Treasure Seeking Period
1820–1830 – Joseph and the Plates
Ohio-Missouri Period – Sidney Rigdon Days
1831–1838 – The Kirtland Scandal
Nauvoo Period – Plural Marriage and Brick Houses
1839–1846 – Book of Abraham and Joseph’s Death
— Intermission, the Succession Crisis —
Pioneering the West – Brigham Takes Over
1846–1898 — The Utah War
Expansion of the Church — Missionaries Everywhere
1899–1950 — Correlation after Polygamy
The Worldwide Church
1951–present — The Correlated Church
We can each help to move forward this great latter-day work. We can actually do things to help people understand what was going on and put a stop to drivel in manuals like the official one.
Ask class members to look around the room at the people in the class. Look at how we got here. We got here via reason and some emotion. We got here because someone shared something that we didn’t know before.
We can all do that as we learn more about church history and the D&C.
We should all be excited to live in a day of the internet, when reason and science are being taught by so many and are so accessible. We just need to point people in the correct direction, and there are many currently doubting who just need someone to trust.
We can all contribute to helping end bullshit. Hopefully this course helps some of you, and you can help someone else.